Brackmills BID to look at travel survey for business park commuters facing daily congestion

Gridlock pictures taken by Chronicle & Echo staff at rushhour on Pavillion Drive on November 6.
Gridlock pictures taken by Chronicle & Echo staff at rushhour on Pavillion Drive on November 6.

Another day, and commuters should expect another traffic nightmare when leaving the office at 5.30pm to get home to their loved ones from Brackmills Industrial Estate.

For the 14,000 people working in Brackmills, trying to get out of the business park in under 10 minutes is something to be laughed at.

Cars have often been seen driving on the wrong side of the road in Pavillion Drive at 5.30pm to get round other motorists queuing to get on the A45 westbound.

Cars have often been seen driving on the wrong side of the road in Pavillion Drive at 5.30pm to get round other motorists queuing to get on the A45 westbound.

Alan Smith, who works for T&W Civil Engineering, had a typical story to tell. Last week his trip home took him an hour and 20 minutes to get to nearby East Hunsbury.

According to Google Maps, on a clear day, that trip should take six minutes.

The Chron has this week called on Highways England, Brackmills BID and Northamptonshire County Council to find a solution to the ongoing problem on the business park. At this point, we will declare an interest. We are based on the park as well, along with thousands of other employees of different companies.

A point continually raised by employees on the park is the issue of the single-lane traffic outside Barclays, in Pavillion Drive, and the limited access points. It is more often than not gridlocked... and uncontrolled, with motorists driving on the wrong side of the road in a bid to beat queues.

There has to be a review of the traffic issues with recommendations for short and long-term solutions. And, it has to be done quickly.

This is where Brackmills BID has stepped in to reveal potential plans for a new travel survey.

Sara Homer, CEO of Brackmills BID, said: “One of our most pressing challenges for us on the estate is congestion.

“Brackmills is one of the most populated estates in Northamptonshire, with 14,000 employees, many of whom start and leave at the same time. Also it is peak season for logistics with the approach of Christmas and large amounts of additional staff working on the estate.

“In addition, there are extensive maintenance works on the A45, which is a main route through the county. We are just one junction down from the M1 and close to the town centre, which has its own congestion challenges.”

The BID held its first traffic survey in 2009, mapping out where the then 11,000 staff travelled from and by what means.

The survey found that 90 per cent of staff travelled by car, just four per cent by bus and three per cent by cycle.

The BID implemented measures such as improved cycle ways and footpaths and lobbied for extra bus services to promote sustainable travel.

Sara added: “It is 10 years since our last travel survey, so it is timely to do another one.

“Since our last survey we have 3,000 more employees on the estate, even more cars and yet more congestion.”

After a Chron story was posted online on Tuesday night highlighting more delays it generated 104 comments on Facebook. One of those people to comment was Charlotte Fox Barnes.

She said: “It took me 40 minutes to drive three miles. There’s too many roadworks [happening] at the same time.”

To make matters worse, it comes as a planning application for 525 new homes will be decided on by planning chiefs next week, on the land north of Newport Pagnell Road.

The issue, though, is exacerbated some nights, and seemingly most mornings, by bad crashes on the A45, recent heavy rainfall causing flooding, Cycle CoNNect closing in September and the start of the Cliftonville Corridor roadworks on November 4.

But for the A45, there is potential light at the end of the tunnel.

The county council has given the go-ahead to roadworks, which will take place to improve a number of key interchanges on the A45 near Northampton.

It is called the 'A45 Northampton Growth Management Scheme' (NGMS), which aims to improve a number of junctions along the A45 trunk road between the M1 junction 15 and the Great Billing Interchange.

The scheme is a joint project between the county council, Daventry District Council, Highways England, Northampton Borough Council, South Northamptonshire Council and the West
Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit.

The county council is project-managing the scheme and funding on behalf of all the project partners.

In total, seven junctions will be improved:

- M1 junction 15
- A45 Wootton Interchange
- A45 Queen Eleanor Interchange
- A45 Brackmills Interchange
- A45 Barnes Meadow Interchange
- A45 Lumbertubs interchange
- A45 Great Billing interchange

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “As the economy and population grows so does traffic on our roads and the A45 – a major transport artery in the county – is a very busy route.

“The county council is continually working with partner organisations to look at how the highways network can be improved to accommodate growth both now and in the future.”

The scheme will cost £5.877 million and has been secured so far from a combination of developer contributions (£1.797m) and the Highways England Growth and Housing Fund (£4.08m).

This funding will deliver the improvements at the A45 Queen Eleanor Interchange and the detailed design of the A45 Brackmills and Great Billing Interchanges in 2020.

It is anticipated that, subject to further developer funding, the A45 Brackmills and Great Billing Interchanges will be delivered between 2020 and 2021.

The remaining junctions will be improved as funding becomes available.

No works will be undertaken at the M1 junction 15 until it is clear whether the junction is to be rebuilt for the proposed Northampton Gateway Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.

A Highways England spokeswoman added the planned improvements to junctions along this busy route will ease congestion and improve safety for road users.